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Research Contexts

'Murales casa del migrante San Luis Potosí' Image by Martha Victoria Ríos 


Principal Investigator 

Elaine Chase is Associate Professor in Education, Health Promotion and International Development at UCL Institute of Education.  Her teaching, research and writing explore the sociological dimensions of health, wellbeing and rights of individuals and communities, particularly those most likely to experience marginalisation and exclusion.  Current and recent research focuses on the psychological and social aspects of living in poverty; the wellbeing outcomes of children, young people and families subject to immigration control; and on educational wellbeing in contexts of mass displacement.  

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Brad Blitz

Co- Investigator 

Brad Blitz is Professor of International Politics and Policy at the UCL Institute of Education and until June 2019 was Director of the British Academy/DFID Programme on Modern Slavery. His research focuses on displacement, governance and human rights. He is the author of Migration and Freedom: Mobility, Citizenship and Exclusion and recently acted as Principal Investigator for the ESRC-DFID project EVI-MED on refugee reception systems in the Mediterranean and EU project INFORM on access to legal and procedural information for asylum-seekers. He is also Co-Investigator on a £15 million ‘hub’ on Gender, Justice and Security, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). 


Elena Fiddian Qasmiyeh

Co- Investigator 

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is Professor in Migration and Refugee Studies.  Her research focuses on the intersections between gender, generation and religion in experiences of and responses to conflict-induced displacement, with a particular regional focus on the Middle East. Elena is the Co-Director of UCL's Migration Research Unit, and is the coordinator of the Refuge in a Moving World research network across UCL (@RefugeMvingWrld). She is currently the PI of three multi-year research projects: firstly, a 4-year AHRC-ESRC funded project, 'Local Community Experiences of and Responses to Displacement from Syria', awarded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (see and @RefugeeHosts);  a 5-year project funded by the European Research Council, South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement: Views from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey ( and @SouthernResp); and a 3-year project funded by the British Council-USA entitled Religion and Social Justice for Refugees. Elena is also External Affiliate Convenor of the South-South Forum at Dartmouth College. 

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Walter Flores 

Co- Investigator 

Dr Flores is a social scientist and advocate with over 25 years of professional experience. He holds a PhD and a Masters in Community Health from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK.  His undergraduate studies in Psychology were carried-out at California State University-Chico, USA and Universidad de San Carlos, Guatemala. Dr Flores’ professional work has been carried-out in more than 30 countries from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. His areas of expertise are:  health policy analysis, health systems, health equity, right to health, democratic governance of public policies and community participation in public policies. Dr. Flores is the founder and principal advisor of Centro de estudios para la equidad y gobernanza en los sistemas de salud (CEGSS) (Center for the Study of Equity and Governance in Health Systems), a civil society organization in Guatemala specialized in research, capacity building and advocacy around issues affecting indigenous and other marginalized populations. Dr Flores is also a steering committee member of the Community of Practitioners on Accountability and Social Action in Health-COPASAH, which is a network of civil society organizations from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, working towards improving healthcare services for marginalized populations through human rights, accountability and social mobilization. 

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Valentina Glockner

Co- Investigator 

Dr Valentina Glockner is a Mexican anthropologist affiliated with the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) based at the Child Research Observatory at El Colegio de Sonora, Mexico. She has specialized on the anthropology of childhood, migration and the state. She completed a year of Postdoctoral Studies in Childhood and Youth at CLACSO-CINDE with a Mexico-India comparative project. Winner of the Mexican Academy of Sciences Award for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Social Sciences and Humanities 2014 with a research on the relationships between NGOs, the State and working-migrant children in India. Her undergraduate thesis on the experiences of migrant and working Mixtec children was awarded two of the most prestigious national awards in anthropology in Mexico and was published as a book in 2008. She has directed and coordinated research projects funded by the National Geographic Society, the Sonora-Arizona Interuniversity Alliance, The University of Texas and CONACYT (CONTEX). She has been a fellow of the CLACSO-CROP program for studies on poverty and has participated in research projects of INAH, CIESAS-UNICEF, BUAP-PROMEP and UAMI-CONACYT. She is a founder member of Colectiva Infancias, a network of researchers specialized in social studies of children and migration in the Global South. She is currently a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Summer Program 2018-2019. Member of the Mexican National Research System (SNI) since 2017. 


Betsabé Román González 

Co- Investigator 

Dr Betsabé Román González is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de Sonora, in Hermosillo, Mexico.  She is a current member of the National Research System (SNI-CONACYT), at Candidate level. She holds a PhD in Social Sciences from Tecnologico de Monterrey, Masters in Educational Psychology from Universidad Veracruzana, and undergraduate in Child Development and Learning from Maryville College.  Dr Román’s research focuses on following the educational and migratory trajectories of migrant children between the United States and Mexico.  She uses child-centered methodologies to capture children’s experiences and perspectives on migration, schooling and family, and writes their life stories.  She currently leads a CONACYT project: “Transit and return of child migrants in Sonora: Characteristics and public policy”.  Dr. Román’s interests include pre-service and in-service teacher training, curriculum design for migrant students, welcome protocols in schools, and children’s migratory trajectories as funds of knowledge in schools. 


Jennifer Allsopp

Co- Investigator 

Jennifer Allsopp, Ph.D, is postdoctoral fellow at the Immigration Initiative at Harvard (IIH) and Harvard Graduate School of Education, and coordinator of the IIH. She is also a research associate with the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, and a regular advisor to the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee. Jennifer's research explores the relationship between immigration control, welfare and wellbeing, with a particular focus on gender and aging. She has also worked on a range of comparative studies in international migration, and is currently collaborating with colleagues across five continents to develop a new toolkit for ethical and effective migration research partnerships.  


Abigail Andrews

Co- Investigator 

Abigail Andrews is Assistant Professor of Sociology and co-director of the Mexican Migration Field Research Program at the University of California-San Diego. She studies gender, migration, state power, and grassroots agency, with a focus on Mexico, Central America, and the United States. Her 2018 book Undocumented Politics: Place, Gender, and the Pathways of Mexican Migrants traces how “voiceless” migrant communities confront state exclusion, upend patriarchy, and fight to belong. She is currently researching the politics of forced displacement among Mexican deportees and Central American asylum seekers. In collaboration with several graduate and undergraduate students at UCSD, she explores how forced removals shape people’s citizenship, fracture families, facilitate exploitation, and inhibit or provoke advocacy. She pays special attention to the gendered dimensions of displacement and the uneven geography of removal. 

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Jessie Brunner

Co- Investigator 

Jessie Brunner serves as Senior Program Manager of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, where she directs the Center’s research agenda on human trafficking and examines other migration issues. Her research generally investigates issues related to data collection and analysis, with a focus on Southeast Asia and Brazil.  Brunner is deeply involved in anti-trafficking efforts at a policy level, including with the San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking, UN Alliance 8.7, and the International Labour Organisation. Brunner previously worked at Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law; the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau on Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; and the Los Angeles Times. She has conducted human rights field work in Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Rwanda, the Philippines, and Thailand. Brunner earned a MA in International Policy Studies from Stanford University and a BA in Mass Communications with a Spanish minor from UC Berkeley. 

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Jeremy Slack

Co- Investigator 

Jeremy Slack earned his Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Arizona in 2015 and is currently an assistant professor in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has been working on the U.S. Mexico border since 2003 studying migration, deportation and the impacts of widespread drug violence on immigration. His recent book, Deported to Death: How drug violence is changing migration on the U.S. Mexico border (2019), explores issues such as kidnapping, forced recruitment, extortion and asylum. His recent work has explored asylum seekers, detention and immigration courts.   

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Penelope Van Tuyl

Co- Investigator 

Penelope Van Tuyl is Associate Director of Stanford University’s Center for Human Rights and International Justice. Trained as a human rights lawyer, she has worked closely with founding Director, David Cohen, for over a decade to shape the Center into the vibrant academic and research community it is today. Penelope serves in a principal leadership position managing the Center's digital archival partnership with the Stanford University Libraries. She also runs the Minor in Human Rights, and teaches core course for the degree program, including Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Human Rights Theory and Practice and Migration, Asylum, and Human Rights at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Van Tuyl has authored and edited numerous reports and articles on international criminal law and procedure. Her research interests touch on substantive, procedural, and administrative aspects of international criminal law practice and she also writes and teaches about migration and asylum law in comparative perspective. Van Tuyl graduated Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College, with a BA in International Relations and Latin American Studies. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and is admitted to practice in the state of California.  

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Deborah Zion

Co- Investigator 

Associate Professor Deborah Zion (PhD) is the Chair of the Human Research Ethics Committee at Victoria University in Melbourne. She holds a PhD from the Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University. She has written extensively concerning ethics and infectious diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS. She has also worked for sixteen years on issues related to the ethics of asylum seeker healthcare, and published widely in this field. 

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Ricardo Muniz Trejo

Project Assistant 

Ricardo Muniz Trejo is a lawyer and a student on UCL’s  MSc in Global Migration, holding a CONACYT Graduate Fellowship (Mexico). He has worked in shelters for migrants in Northern Mexico, providing humanitarian assistance and conducting risk assessments with migrant populations. Ricardo’s research interests are centered on studying the role of non-governmental actors in  mass displacement. His current dissertation focuses on how non-governmental migrant shelters in Mexico conceptualize the best interests of unaccompanied teenagers.

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Theresa Cheng

Research Team Member

Theresa Cheng, MD, JD is currently a senior resident in Emergency Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work centres around shaping the practice of medicine to promote human dignity and social justice. In 2012, she advised the California Legislative Analyst’s Office on how to improve low enrolment of government assistance benefits programs of peri-homeless and homeless Californians. Through her work on human rights and health with UNAIDS and amfAR, she testified before the National Congress of Thailand on reproductive rights violations against HIV-positive women in 2013. In 2019, Dr. Cheng worked with the ACLU to investigate the reproductive health violations and neglect of asylum-seekers in detention centres. She is currently on the Board of Directors for Border Kindness, a non-profit providing medical and legal care for homeless immigrants in Mexico. Dr. Cheng holds a M.D. from the Mayo Clinic and a J.D. with specialization in International Law from the University of California. Dr. Cheng ultimately hopes to meld clinical practice with legal knowledge and advocacy within medicine to become a better advocate for the most invisible and marginalized.

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